Putting your dog on a leash and licensing your cat will now be required as revisions to Laramie Municipal Code Title 6, dealing with “Animals”, which were approved in a 7-to-1 vote on third and final reading Tuesday night at the regular meeting of the Laramie City Council. Councilor Joe Vitale voted against the changes to the ordinance, Councilor Klaus Hanson was absent.

The issue of licensing cats was discussed at length during the meeting with an amendment being proposed by Councilor Erik Molvar to delete the requirement that cats be licensed, but include a requirement they either be chipped or wear tags for identification. Councilor Joe Shumway expressed his belief that requiring licenses was a mandate on citizens which made it difficult for him to support the animal ordinance.

Rene Sollars spoke on behalf on Animal Control about the difficulty of returning cats to owners when they end up in the Laramie Animal Shelter, claiming that licensing cats is their “ticket home.” Sollars stated that in 2010 while there were only 462 cats in the shelter compared to 756 dogs, the cats stayed an average of 22 days compared to an average 5 day stay for dogs. That means the night totals for cats was 10,164 nights compared to 3,780 dog nights. The amendment to delete the requirement that cats be licensed failed in a 1-to-7 vote.

During the debate the issue of the importance of designating dog parks was also discussed at length. One public commenter said that the animal ordinance was about give and take. Dog owners were giving up voice control of their dogs and he claimed it is the city’s responsibility to give dog parks back. Several council members then affirmed their commitment to designating the recommendations for dog parks that they receive from the parks, tree and recreation advisory board.

Throughout the debate, Councilor Vitale expressed his dislike of the terms for when an animal would be considered “at large” and how vicious dogs would be handled by the city. He specifically called out the definition of which deals with animals when they are on their owners property and when they are in a parked vehicle. He was the only council member to vote against passing the animal ordinance.